So here I am, just arrived in Toronto. And it strikes me that we Brits uncertain about the vote on Thursday and unnerved by immigration in particular could learn much from this quietly confident city. It’s the fourth largest in North America (which I did not know), after New York, LA, Mexico City and just before Chicago.
It boasts 2.9m inhabitants (6m in the larger metropolitan area) and is about as multicultural as it can get. 100,000 immigrants arrive each year and over half the city’s population was born outside Canada. My Serbian cabbie tells me that 130 different languages are spoken here and that the City of Toronto publishes information for its citizens in a remarkable 30 languages.
And, naturally, this is all reflected in the local cuisine which is famously diverse. There are some 7,000 restaurants in town dotted around Little Italy, Corso Italia, Little India, Greektown, Koreatown, Portugal Village, Little Poland and not one, not two, but three Chinatowns.
And that’s why I’m here, to learn more about Toronto’s celebrated grub and to sample the local Ontario wines of which I’ve long been a fan and which are finally attracting the attention they deserve. Famous for its sumptuously sweet Icewine (which I adore), the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario is now producing some fabulous reds, whites and fizzes too.
I started off last night with some crisp, petrolly and mineral 2013 Charles Baker ‘Stratus’ Riesling before moving onto a delightfully dark, smokey and concentrated 2012 Norman Hardie Unflitered Pinot Noir and the 2012 Charles Baker ‘Stratus’ Syrah – soft, smooth, mellow, richly flavoured with damsons and plums and a touch of spice. I can’t wait to learn more about them and will report back at the end of the week with my serious and in depth researches on your behalf and with suggestions for Browsing and Sluicing in Toronto and Ontario.
If you’ll excuse me though, I’ve got some craft beer to sample and some oysters to shuck.